Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés, a nation-wide initiative comprised of more than fifty seniors, retirees, professionals and advocacy groups, representing more than a million seniors, was formed to promote the interest of older Canadians ahead of the upcoming federal election.
In late April, just before the federal budget was brought down, Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés representatives met with politicians in Ottawa (above picture) to advocate on behalf of seniors.
It is common knowledge that older Canadians are the most committed voters; 65% or more of older voters turnout to vote regularly. Older Canadians are also among the most politically engaged voters whose past party loyalty cannot be taken for granted. This has led all political parties to ask: “What do seniors want?
And the answer has been the call for the kind of transformative change in our public systems that will make life better for all Canadians as they age. Many such reforms will only benefit future generations.
Now for the details on Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés priority issues for the 2015 federal election.
Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés calls for pension reform to ensure that people will not outlive their money by expanding access to pension savings and increasing income support.
The call for healthcare reform demands that Canadians not be treated as health consumers or merely patients, but rather as “healthcare citizens” who pay for the system and expect it to serve the broad values set out in the Canada Health Act–universality, accessibility and comprehensiveness. To do this, the healthcare system must undergo transformative change and centre itself around the needs and expectations of the healthcare citizen, to not only provide medical intervention but also support prevention and social determinants of health, the family caregiver and end of life care
Seniors want to stay in their own homes but too often programs like homecare are not there for them to be able to do so. There is a need for a national housing strategy that includes seniors housing. Access to affordable and suitable housing is a major determinant of health, an instrument to reduce poverty and a critical component of age-friendly communities.
Income inequality is growing in Canada. More seniors are falling below the poverty line. Seniors are also concerned that too many of their children and grandchildren are facing precarious work prospects and a bleak future.
It is clear that Seniors indeed vote. This sets out what Seniors will vote for. Today’s ballot questions are the blueprint for our children’s tomorrow.
1. Income and Retirement Security
Achieving income security in working life and retirement is increasingly difficult for Canadians of all ages.
- Nearly 5 million Canadians live in poverty
- 12 percent of seniors still live in poverty, amounting to more 600,000 people
- 1 in 6 single seniors live in poverty, most of whom are women
- Twelve million working Canadians do not have workplace pension plans and significant numbers of Canadians will face a substantial drop in their standard of living on retirement
- Younger working Canadians will have especially limited access to workplace pensions
Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés calls on the federal government to:
- Work with provinces to increase the CPP
- Strengthen income support by Restoring the OAS eligibility age to 65 from 67. Increase the exempt earnings band for GIS. Increasing the amount of OAS and GIS for low-income seniors
- Increase income supports for low-income single older Canadians not yet eligible for OAS by creating an equivalent to the OAS spousal allowance
- Prohibit retroactive erosion of earned pension benefits
2. Federal Leadership on Healthcare Transformation
Healthcare remains the highest priority for Canadians who are calling for transformative change.
- Older Canadians and their families find the system inadequate to the task of meeting their post acute and chronic care needs, very difficult to navigate, and incomplete
- Over 8 million caregivers provide invaluable support to family members and the formal health system, without adequate support from employers and government
- Poverty, social isolation, a poor physical environment, and inadequate housing leads to poor health outcomes. Investments in prevention and in the social determinants of health could save the system money and produce better health outcomes for Canadians
- Transforming the healthcare system to better work for all Canadians requires federal leadership
Seniors Vote calls on the federal government to:
- Work with the provinces to create a national pharmacare plan, with an ultimate goal of first dollar coverage for all Canadians
- Work with the provinces to fund and set standards to improve access, affordability, and quality of post-acute and chronic care, in the home and in the community, with particular focus on dementia care
- Increase financial support and provide workplace protection for caregivers
- Work with the provinces to ensure every Canadian has access to housing appropriate to need, including affordable and supportive housing, and assisted living services
For more information on Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés , including events, media mentions and other activities, and a list of the organizations that have endorsed Seniors Vote/ Le Vote des Aînés click HERE